The Toronto Wolfpack has provided Canadian sports fans with an opportunity to become involved in rugby league on a regular basis. The team plays in the third tier of the English Rugby League competition and after nine rounds, are leading this table with the Barrow Raiders in second place.
The Wolfpack have scored 536 points to just 85 in their nine successive competition wins and a match average of around 40-9 in their favour suggests the team should be playing at a higher level. But the Rugby Football League placed them in the Kingstone Press League One competition and the Wolfpack are hopeful of winning this Premiership.
Former Great Britain Test player and coach, Brian Noble, is the club’s Director of Rugby. Noble, now 56, played with Bradford and Wakefield, as well as playing some matches with Cronulla in 1985. He played 11 Tests for Great Britain from 1982 and began his coaching career with Bradford Northern in 2001. With Bradford, he had plenty of coaching success winning three Super League Grand Finals, three World Club Championships and the Challenge Cup in 2003. With Noble as coach, Bradford’s three World Club title wins were against Newcastle 2002 (41-26), Penrith 2004 (22-4) and the Wests Tigers 2006 (30-10). Noble also coached Wigan, the Welsh Crusaders and Salford, as well as Great Britain in 14 Tests between 2004 and 2006.
Former Leigh, Halifax and Huddersfield hooker, Paul Rowley in the Wolfpack Head Coach. Rowley, 42, played four Tests with England from 1996, and coached Leigh from 2008 to 2016. Toronto local, Eric Perez is club CEO and the man behind the formation of the Wolfpack in Canada’s biggest city.
There are 16 teams in the League One competition and in their 15 regular season games, the Wolfpack play eight matches in England and seven at their home ground in Toronto, Lamport Stadium, which has a capacity of just under 10,000. Named the Den by the club, the first competition game played at Lamport was the 62-12 win against Oxford on 6 May before a crowd of 6,281. Two weeks later on 20 May, they beat second placed Barrow Raiders 70-2 at home in front of 7,144 paying fans. Then on 3 June they defeated the Coventry Bears 54-12 at Lamport before a 6,973 crowd.
Former Parramatta forward and New Zealand Test player, Fui Fui Moi Moi (12 Tests) is now with the Wolfpack. He turns 38 in September and has scored eight tries this season. Captain and goalkicking centre, Craig Hall, has 180 points (six tries, 78 goals) and has played in all nine games. Hall 29, has played 197 first team games in English Rugby League from 2007 with Hull, Hull KR and Wakefield. In these games, the big centre (1.93 metres, 94 kgs) has scored 620 points from 106 tries and 98 goals. Blake Wallace, a 24 year old five eighth, who played in the Dapto team which won last year’s Illawarra first grade grand final, is another regular Wolfpack starting player. Most of the Wolfpack squad are British, but there are Australians, Kiwis, Canadians, two Americans and a Jamaican. Several of the players had to come through trial sessions to earn selection in the group. One of the Americans, Ryan Burroughs, played with Wentworthville last year.
Canadian media are now covering the matches and games can be seen on live screens.
by Barry Ross